SISTAR’s second release of the summer, “I Swear”, is predictable and safe but it’s also damn good.
The first ten seconds of “I Swear” may be the most interesting bit of the song but what follows isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. The bluesy bit to start the song fits Hyorin’s wheelhouse perfectly so it’s a tad disappointing to see the song immediately veer towards more predictable waters once the main beat starts rolling in. I say a “tad” disappointing because the summery horn-fueled jam is just the type of song that SISTAR seems built to do (and which the quartet executed perfectly in “Loving U”). The formula is a familiar one. Hyorin’s voice gets the most prominent mixing as she works wonders when backed by brass instrumentals which serve to highlight the best aspects of her vocal talents. Soyu does what she can with what she’s given. Bora gets the obligatory rap that never really impresses but fills time well enough. Dasom is there. The point is “I Swear” couldn’t have been more foreseeable if it tried and yet it hardly matters because the SISTAR formula works so well given the structure of the group. Hyorin can carry a pop song and the production and (very importantly) the rest of SISTAR know who to give the lion’s share of work. From the promising intro to the concluding note of “I Swear”, SISTAR doesn’t deviate from its stock blueprint and it makes for a successful – if mailed in- single.
As for the video, it is similarly boilerplate by summer video and SISTAR standards but it has a couple of strengths that leave a positive impression. The decision to hold the choreography bits outdoors on the beach gives “I Swear” some gorgeous visuals and lighting. And unlike their previous single, there are no disastrously awkward dance moves this time around. As for the “story” element, SISTAR plays it smart. The error that “fun-in-the-sun” concepts sometimes make is to essentially make a collage of vacation images, mash them together and intersperse them with choreography shots. Such approaches usually don’t work because there’s no string for the viewer to follow. Random images of “vacation-fun-time” start to blur together and it becomes all too easy to tune out as the gist of the video is familiar to the audience before the first chorus is through. “I Swear” plays it a little smarter. They have the mandatory pool, beach, convertible and car wash scenes but they’re shown in an order which gives the video some semblance of plot. Even the lighting suggests the passage of time so that it’s unmistakable that these events are taking place in sequential order rather than being shoved through an editing randomizer. That gives “I Swear” a welcomed coherency that is often lost in these types of videos.
Of course, one doesn’t need a whole lot of excuses to watch “I Swear” from beginning to end. The group looks unsurprisingly great and the camera is unrepentant in showcasing the group’s impossible curves and legs at every possible opportunity.
I mean, good lord Bora.
Good lord SISTAR.
Sometimes, the strength of a group can be found in their middling releases. After all, not every single that one group produces will be considered an instant classic. It’s how a group fares in between the smash hits that often really shows what a group is made of and SISTAR has consistently shown that their average is fairly damn great. “I Swear” does nothing with SISTAR that one couldn’t find in… pretty much any other SISTAR video but the group is so aware of what its strengths are (Hyorin, their sexy image, Hyorin, Soyu, Bora’s legs, Hyorin) that even a fairly standard release like “I Swear” shines brightly.